“Next time an elderly person dies, try to stop yourself from minimizing the family’s grief by pointing out the deceased’s older age or medical afflictions. Pointing these things out doesn’t decrease the loved one’s grief. It doesn’t move them along easier. It doesn’t muffle the crying. I’m very sorry about the loss you, too, have suffered. Everyone has or will suffer a loss. I know my dad was 82. I know to be grateful for his years. I also know full well he was sick for a long time. Actually, nobody knows that more than us because we witnessed it and were in the thick of it for 12 years. I knew there would always be a final day for him. I knew because, my dad had about 100 fake final days over the years, and yet he still managed to survive all of them just as soon as people counted him out. I know, but I don’t care. I don’t care about those facts because the truth is – my dad was the family. He was larger than all of us. I will still miss him regardless of his age or long, miraculous and complicated medical history. I will miss his voice, his laugh, his chuckle, his eyes and the sparkle and wink in his right eye. I’ll miss his eye lashes. And the way they would regularly get stuck in his eye because they were unusually long. Everything about dad was rare and unusual.
I will miss the messy way he ate and generously offered for us to eat with him. I will miss his perfect nail beds and the way he folded his hands and rested them under his round belly, especially when he was getting ready to listen to me tell him a story. I’ll miss the way he was always present to all of us. I’ll miss the way he rubbed his nose and reached for the handkerchief in his pocket. And the way he looked at mom in intense love, in humor, in frustration and in longing for more time. I’ll miss the way he looked at her probably wondering where the last 56 years went. I’ll miss the way he tried to tell us what to watch out for in life, especially with regards to raising our kids, his prized grandchildren. He gave the best warnings and advice about spouses, employers and employees.
He was proud of each of us and what he accomplished, always reminding us we can do whatever we wanted. I’ll miss his thoughts on which ages were the hardest to raise kids and what to do if they don’t listen. He’d tell us to keep talking to kids and to keep them close by asking them questions all the time. Keep tabs on them. I’ll miss how he used to laugh fully and deeply when we would say something rude or vulgar, and then he’d stop abruptly asking us ‘where the %^&* we learned that language’ if we said something similar! I’ll miss the way he told me to not worry. How he said if he doesn’t worry, who will worry about us then?! I’ll miss the umpteen times he asked where my husband was. How he was. Was he working? I’ll miss his childlike enthusiasm at just being alive. At a car ride. At watching mom. During a happy birthday song. Sitting watching mom work her garden.
I’ll miss his pleasure at the simple life. I’ll miss his protection against negativity in my life. I’ll miss his strong backbone. I’ll miss the way he never backed down from a fight, a confrontation or a conversation. His bravado was admirable as well as his muscle and strength. I’ll miss his natural ability to not care about rules. His endless pursuit of personal freedom. His value on freedom for all of us. His pure generosity to the poorest of the poor wanting no recognition or thank you back. What he did for others in private that nobody even knew. The risks he took for the freedom of others which we didn’t find out about until recently. I’ll miss so much the way he tilted his chin with pride. I’ll miss the way he hung his head in sadness. I’ll miss his raised hand and stomping foot when singing and listening to his favorite Lebanese music. I’ll miss the way he reached for our hand when trying to walk. I’ll miss the way he automatically made the sign of our faith when he saw a priest. I’ll miss his chants, his songs, his nicknames, his voice.
So yes, he was 82 – just 2 months shy of 83 years old. Yes, he survived being in a coma, 2 liver transplants in the same week, a bowel reconstruction surgery, countless seizures, pneumonias, infection after infections, C. difficile, MRSA, throat issues from tubes, feeding tubes, many surgeries, countless pokes in veins until he had not one vein left at the end. He was a miracle in so many ways; earning the nickname Lazarus by his medical teams. He survived brain injuries and ventilators. He came back from no brain activity at all. He survived being tied down to bed frames and posts. He survived pulling out his own PICC lines and chest tubes. He learned to walk again. He survived being in a vulnerable state. He lived through all of that, yes, and then some – more, we can’t even remember to mention. But on May 2, 2018, this almost 83-year-old family man at 2:45 a.m., died. He breathed 2 tiny last gasps of breath before leaving us for good this time. I watched him and felt him and loved him. He grabbed mother Mary’s hand in Her month of May, while literally letting go of mine. In the same month as his parents’ deaths too, and at around the same ages. So I think yes, I will mourn and still cry, if I want and need to. Even for my dad, Jimmy George at 82 years old. And I’ll remember to say thank you Lord as I do.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mona Taouil of Gurl Like You, where the article originally appeared. You can follow her on Instagram here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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